School children in Vietnam practice hand-washing amidst the global Coronavirus outbreak. Photo credit: vir.com.vn
144,052 coronavirus (COVID-19) infection cases and 5,397 deaths have been confirmed as at the time of this report. As health officials strive harder to manage infection cases, understand more about the virus and forestall its further spread, global education systems have been responding positively in many ways to prevent further spread:
Schools shut down globally after canceling classes
World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the highly infectious coronavirus is endemic. The viral outbreak that began in China in December 2019 has infected thousands of people globally.
Currently, the closing of schools in over a dozen countries after canceling classes due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has disrupted education activities.
So far, 13 countries of the world have shut down schools nationally; 22 have shut down schools in some areas nationwide and hundreds of millions of school children and students face serious academic disruption. France announced today that schools would be closed next week. Over 290 million school children and students are at home globally.
Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, wanted schools to remain shut for at least two weeks as medical experts search for a health solution to the endemic. Over 1266 deaths out of 17660 infection cases have already been confirmed in Italy.
Study abroad programs on hold
After hitting Infection Warning Level 3 on February 26, several US-based universities including Stanford University, University of Miami, University of Maryland-College Park, and Elon University, have returned their students who are on study abroad program in Italy home.
Suspension of out-state travel for staff and students
Settle Public Schools administrators in US have said that schools in the district are taking extra steps to prevent and contain the widespread infection in the schools by following the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines strictly.
Schools in the district have also suspended all district-sponsored out-state travel through the end of the school year for staff and students to ensure the workforce and students remain healthy and safe even though no case of coronavirus infection has been confirmed in the school staff and students.
In collaboration with the local health department, school districts in US have set rules in their schools as part of the prevention for further spread of COVID-19 in that area. They have reached out to the public in districts, including school children, parents, and educators to learn and keep to the rules in order to keep their districts safe.
Introduction of new cleaning procedure
The New York State in US has said that it would introduce a new cleaning procedure in schools in the state. Its Department of Health Services would, in partnership with private hospitals, carry out more out-schools new coronavirus public testing as well as clean up the public transport system in the state.
Addressing issues with schools meal programs
The US Association of School Nutrition Professionals has suggested that the Department of Agriculture authorize schools to activate ‘grab and go’ meal option or expand summer months meal programs as possible options for children and students of closed schools who are on meal programs. It was suggested that New York State should expand its emergency aid welfare program to cover and address the mentioned issue.
Prevention and Emergency Control Strategy for Schools
The CDC has shared interim guidance for schools on how to plan, prepare and respond to COVID-19, based on what is known about the severity and transmission of the infection.
The CDC has recommended schools work directly with local health departments to share information and resources about the infection to students and staff, keep emergency control procedures plans up to date and monitor and plan for students’ absenteeism. The plans should include daily strategic drills for, before, during and after a plausible outbreak and should be designed to minimize classroom activities interruptions during teaching and learning and protect students and staff from social stigmatization and segregation.
Identification Strategy for Schools
What do you think schools should do if cases of Coronavirus, COVID-19 infections are identified in schools?
The CDC recommends that schools should:
- Cancel extracurricular group activities and large events for the time being
- Cancel after-school assemblies and pep rallies, and postpone field trips, and sporting events
- Discourage students and staff from gathering or socializing anywhere
- Discourage meetings at places like a friend’s house, a favourite restaurant, or the local shopping mall
- Ensure continuity of education. How should continuity of education continue?
Readiness Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) and Higher Education Institutions
The REMS Technical Assistance Centre has resources from federal agency partners for schools and higher education institutions when it comes to how to handle health hazards, like Coronavirus, COVID-19, in schools, colleges, and universities.
Here is the summary of The U.S. Department of Education’s collaborative efforts in coordination with state and local health officials, educational agencies and other prevention steps schools can take amid the coronavirus outbreak:
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or the crook of your arm
- Avoid close contact with those who are already sick.
- Stay home from school if you are sick.